Pavlova: Week 61

“What’s the difference between castor sugar and white sugar?”

I consulted locals in the supermarket and solicited advice from the hostel manager. Although I had not tasted, let alone seen a Pavlova, I felt that the Kiwi-as meringue-like dessert was in capable hands.

“The secret is to beat it for fifteen minutes.”

Soon after I laid out my ingredients I whipped them into a stiff foamy batter and dropped it on a baking sheet. It looked like a bubble bath cloud until I sculpted and smoothed the sides with a spoon. After only twenty minutes my Pavlova was ready for the oven.

Two hours after it went in I was persuaded to peek at my creation. I could see nothing through the opaque oven window so I lowered the door. Initially the oven appeared empty until my eyes adjusted and I discovered that my cake was merely being camouflaged. My foamy construction had collapsed into a bleak charcoal black ruin.

Due to a misreading of my own handwriting, I had set the temperature thirty degrees too high. Although my first ever Pavlova was dismal, I gave the recipe another go. The second was less burnt but just as flat and the third faithfully followed suit.

It was midnight and I was nowhere close to a golden crispy shell and marshmallow-y soft interior. At work my boss assured me that my failure stemmed from my nationality. In his eyes a good Pavlova automatically grants New Zealand citizenship. Sure I can make Hokey Pokey and kiwifruit jam like the best of them, but I just don’t think I am ready yet to take that kind of immigration test.

How to (maybe) make Pavlova:

(From the complete Edmonds Sure to Rise Recipe Book)

  • 3 egg whites
  • 3 Tbsp cold water
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 1 Tsp vinegar
  • 1 Tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tsp corn flour
  1. Preheat oven to 150˚C or 300˚F
  2. Beat egg whites till stiff, add cold water and beat again.
  3. Add castor sugar very gradually while still beating (should beat for a total of 15 min).
  4. Slow beater to add vinegar, vanilla, and corn flour.
  5. Place on baking paper and bake for 45 minutes. Leave it in the oven to cool, do not open the oven!
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2 thoughts on “Pavlova: Week 61

  1. Hahah… I tried the same thing when I was living in France, and came out with a pancake. I’ve since cooked meringue perfectly, the secret is cooking on extremely low heat, and whipping it until you think it’s good enough then whipping it some more. It shouldn’t look bubbly but more like stiff peaks and quite thick. Castor sugar is much more refined than normal sugar, if you use normal sugar your meringue will have a gritty taste.

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